Tag: America

Bill Bryson – The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid | Review

Title: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

Author: Bill Bryson

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 416

Rating: 4/5

Bryson’s non-fiction is always a lot of fun to read, and this book was no different. What’s interesting, though, is that instead of focussing on travel writing as he usually does, this was instead a memoir about Bryson’s childhood adventures. That was cool in one sense, but in another sense I would have preferred to have had some travel writing from him, purely because that’s what he’s best at.

There’s also the Thunderbolt Kid gimmick, which I wasn’t particularly a fan of because I’m not much into superheroes in general. I get that it was his childhood fantasy and stuff and it did a good job of tying the book together, it’s just that I have different interests I guess. Plus it wasn’t really needed, and it ended up just feeling like a gimmick that Bryson relied on when he wasn’t too sure how to finish a chapter.

But I don’t want to complain too much, and in fact as a general rule, I did still really enjoy this. Bryson’s writing is always a pleasure, and I’m sure he could write about literally any subject and I’d still enjoy it. If anything, that’s kind of the gist of this review. I have less in common with Bryson when he’s writing about his upbringing as a kid in America than I do when he’s writing about the places that he’s visited.

And that’s kind of the problem here. I don’t really have anything else to say about this one and it was just okay, although at least it didn’t have any of the sort of inadvertent snootiness that’s ruined a couple of other Bryson books for me. Overall, it was eminently readable and I’m glad I picked it up, especially because it was for free from a little book exchange outside someone’s house, but it wasn’t quite as good as I was expecting.

If you’re a Bill Bryson fan then you’ll want to pick this one up of course, but at the same time I should warn you that it’s just so-so, and definitely not up to scratch if you compare it to some of his other stuff, and Notes from a Small Island in particular. If this was written by just anyone, it would’ve been fine. But because it’s by Bill Bryson, it’s a let down.

Learn more about The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.

 


Bill Bryson – The Road to Little Dribbling | Review

Title: The Road to Little Dribbling

Author: Bill Bryson

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 390

Rating: 4/5

This book is subtitled More Notes from a Small Island, and so as you can expect, it’s pretty much the natural and spiritual sequel to Notes from a Small Island. Arguably Bryson’s most successful book, that one charted his experiences as an American who’d moved to the United Kingdom and then spent a bunch of time travelling around it.

Since then, he’d moved to America and then presumably back to the UK again. It’s kind of hard to tell with Bryson sometimes because I don’t necessarily read his books in publication order and it’s my understanding that he’s headed backwards and forwards here and there. The good news is that I enjoy him most when he’s writing about the UK, possibly only because I live there and so it’s easy for me to picture the things that he’s writing about.

I also think that Bryson has continued to mature as a writer over the years. It’s not that his style has changed, but he has tightened it up a little bit and I think this book benefits because of it. He’s perfected the art of narrative non-fiction and has the knack of writing super engaging informational books on pretty much any topic he tries his hand at.

I will admit that from time to time I’ve found that Bryson’s humour can grate on me, but that’s okay because it wasn’t a problem here. I think it really depends upon his headspace at the time, because when he came across as petty and vindictive, he was having a pretty tough time of things while travelling across Europe.

Overall then, I enjoyed reading this one and would definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of Bryson’s travel writing and stuff. If you’re new to him, though, I’d probably go for Notes from a Small Island to begin with, although this wouldn’t be a bad place to turn to second. And so all in all, it’s a cracking book and I enjoyed it a lot, despite it being my second Bill Bryson book in as many weeks. He hasn’t started to get old yet, at least if we’re talking about my opinion of his books. Looking forward to more!

Learn more about The Road to Little Dribbling.

 


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